Sex, violence and crime dominate Gray's fifth novel, a wild trip through Jamaica, Queens, that reads not unlike a novelization of a Jay-Z album. Eric, a smalltime hustler who sells marijuana and promotes underground parties, is content with his low-key life until he meets River, a stunner who captures his heart and libido. River, it turns out, is a hustler in her own right, and sets up Eric for her two male partners to assault and rob, but even the $35,000 take can't blunt the feelings River has for her mark. Meanwhile, River's younger sister, Starr, a 16-year-old prostitute hospitalized after a run-in with a violent john, wants out of the life. Eric's cousin Russell, paroled after seven years in prison, is hell-bent on retaking the Queens neighborhoods he once ran. Though Gray's not the sharpest stylist, he keeps the story moving, and as the narratives converge, he pours on the luridness. The characters are thin, but the atmosphere is frighteningly seductive. Street lit fans will definitely want to take a look. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
It's Like Candy: An Urban Novelby Erick S. Gray
Beautiful River joins a stick-up crew, but she doesn't know that Big Red and Twinkie have a secret that even she's not in on. When she falls in love with Eric, one of her victims, all she wants is to find her baby sister, and settle down with her new love. But River soon becomes a prisoner of her dangerous world. And escaping it may cost her more than her… See more details below
Beautiful River joins a stick-up crew, but she doesn't know that Big Red and Twinkie have a secret that even she's not in on. When she falls in love with Eric, one of her victims, all she wants is to find her baby sister, and settle down with her new love. But River soon becomes a prisoner of her dangerous world. And escaping it may cost her more than her life.
By the time she turns sixteen, Starr is working for a pimp and turning tricks daily. But when an assault by one of her "dates" lands her in the hospital, Starr meets a woman who wants to help her change her life. Starr's heart is too hardened to believe in second chances, but soon she begins to long for more than selling her body just so she can survive. However the game does not give up its players so easily.
Enter Eric's cousin, Yung Slim, fresh out of jail after seven years. He's looking to reclaim the streets and take care of some old grudges. When Yung Slim goes to battle, Eric--torn between his love for River, his ties to his cousin, and the lure of the streets--gets in too deep. When the war breaks out on the battlefield of the streets, who will be left standing?
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Read an Excerpt
It's Like Candy
"You lookin' for a date, luv?" River asked, staring into the burgundy Benz, focusing on the Caucasian driver.
"Excuse me?" the driver asked. He was a bit confused by her question.
River stepped closer to the car. She leaned into the passenger window and repeated, "I said, is you lookin' for a date?"
"How much?" he asked. He was clad in his usual day-to-day business attire; white shirt, black tie, and cheap shoes, being the average-looking Joe. He had just gotten off from work, and wanted a quick blow job before he went home to his wife. He knew about the track in South Jamaica, Queens, and knew what went on there. It was no secret to the man in the Benz that this was where the action was. Where pussy was up for sale at a reasonable price.
"You a cop?" River asked.
"No. I'm just looking for some fun."
"You want your dick sucked, that's fifty," River told him, staring him down and waiting for an answer with her hands resting on the passenger door.
The middle-aged accountant, who'd just put in three hours of overtime at his firm, couldn't resist River's beauty. He was dazzled byher sinuous, long, jet-black hair, her petite figure, scantily clad in a short denim skirt and a revealing halter top, seductive dark bedroom eyes, and her beautiful long soft legs stretched out in a pair of three-inch stilettos. Her peanut-butter complexion and glossy lips caused the man to get a slight bulge in his jeans.
"You dating or what?" River exclaimed, snapping him out of his lustful daydream.
"Huh? Um ... yeah, get in," he said. He leaned over and opened the passenger door.
River glanced around briefly and then quickly jumped into the Benz. Her date, who introduced himself as Ronny, politely shook her hand and asked where to.
"I know a spot. It's quiet, and hardly any cars come around. You ain't got to worry about anyone bothering us," River said.
"Just lead the way." Ronny put the Benz in drive and drove off.
As Ronny drove, he couldn't help but constantly glance down at River's gleaming long legs. He was horny, and even though he'd been married to his wife for ten years, Ronny occasionally loved the company of a prostitute, preferably black. He loved the sisters from head to toe, but had married a white woman, because he knew that his family would hate him if he ever brought a black woman home. So he drove the extra twenty minutes into Queens and prowled around the risky neighborhood for a quick fix of pussy.
"Turn here," River instructed, and Ronny made a quick right.
He couldn't help himself, River was beautiful, and he yearned for her. He wanted to touch her all over, grope her luscious figure and get it started immediately.
"You're beautiful," he told River.
"Thanks," River said, being short with him.
"You got on any panties under that skirt?" he asked, glancing down at her legs for the umpteenth time that night.
River displayed a counterfeit smile and kept her mouth shut. She just wanted to get it over with. He was lanky and nerdy-looking, andshe knew that if it wasn't for the money, she would have nothing to do with him.
"Can I touch you?" Ronny asked, already stretching his free hand out and gently brushing his fingers against her crossed legs.
River looked at him, and replied, "I do have on panties."
"That's my favorite color. Can I see 'em?"
River sighed, and thought, Here we go wit' another fuckin' perverted asshole. She lifted her hips, her ass hovering over the plush leather seat, and pulled up her denim skirt, exposing the blue thong underneath.
Ronny smiled. "You really got a nice body."
"Turn here," she said.
Ronny made another right.
"Ayyite, pull up in this alley."
He parked his car in an isolated industrial area where there was nothing but empty tractor trailers, parked trucks, and buildings and warehouses vacant for the night.
"My money, please," River said. "No treasure, no pleasure."
He went into his pocket and pulled out two twenties and a ten. "I want you to suck my dick nice and hard. I want you to play with my balls too," he told River, looking like an eager child.
"Ayyite, pay up first and then we can get this party started."
He passed her the money, and River stuffed the cash into her tiny purse.
"Take 'em off, white boy. We ain't got all night. You got fifteen minutes to come." She looked at the clock on the dashboard.
He quickly unbuckled his khakis, pulling his pants and his white briefs down to his ankles. His pale white dick became exposed, and River had to stop herself from laughing as she looked down at his small pink raw sausage and thought, Damn, where's the rest of it?
"I want you to jerk me off, too," he said, getting excited.
River pulled out a condom, and before anything, she started to jerk his little shriveled penis. She always thought that white men were so corny. Only a few were worth her time, and Ronny wasn't one of the few. If anything, she wished she could castrate him and save him the trouble and the embarrassment.
"Oooh, yeah ... do that. Beat my dick. Beat my dick," Ronny gasped, feeling River's warm hand moving rapidly up and down his slight erection.
As River jerked him off, she glanced out the back window. It was dark all around, and she knew she had to keep an eye out for the boys and the stickup kids that lurked in the night. Ronny was so enthralled with the hand job he was receiving that he had his eyes closed, forgetting that he was parked in the wrong hood.
"You ready for me?" River said seductively.
"Yeah, suck my dick, you black bitch!" Ronny moaned.
River didn't argue or curse him out. She gave him a bitter look, but she let the racial slur slide. She had other plans.
"Suck my dick before you make me cum, bitch. Do what I paid you to do."
"You got ten minutes, baby. I'm gonna do you real good. You gonna enjoy me," River said.
"I want my money's worth."
Ronny reclined his seat and River slowly rolled down the condom on his white little dick. It didn't have that far to go. Then River glanced out the back window again, and noticed a car creeping toward them with the headlights off.
If Ronny had been street smart, he would have known that River was hesitating. But his hormones and lust for an exotic black woman made him weak and dumb. He'd been doing this for so long, coming into a Queens hood and picking up black prostitutes, that he felt he was safe out there. He was a client loyal to the track and his money was green just like everybody else's.
With the doors still unlocked and the windows rolled down, hewas definitely an easy target. River glanced back again, and saw two men creeping toward them. But she went on as if everything was cool.
"Bitch, suck my"
"Get the fuck out the car, niggah!" A loud and shattering voice suddenly pierced the air as a large black figure violently grabbed Ronny from the driver's-side window and pulled him out of the car, dropping him to the ground.
Ronny was terrified and wide-eyed as he stared up at his attacker. He was on his hands and knees with a loaded 9-mm pointed at him.
"What's going on?" he asked in a horrified voice, looking like he was about to piss on himself, with his pants still around his ankles. A slimmer second man came into view, and he too gripped a 9-mm. Both men wore black ski masks.
"Niggah, shut the fuck up and fork over that cash, muthafucka, before I blow a hole in your white ass!"
"My money's in my wallet," Ronny fearfully explained.
"Give it up, then, niggah!"
He slowly tried to reach for his pants pocket, but his pants were down too far around his ankles.
"I got that," River said, coming from around the passenger side, and pulling off his pants completely.
Ronny didn't fight. He let River reach for his pants, pulling them off and leaving him bare-assed. River extracted his wallet, another set of keys, and a small picture of his wife and kids.
"You married, got kids and shit, and you out here trying to get your little dick sucked while your wife and kids wait at home for your trifling ass," River said.
"Please, don't kill me. I'm sorry."
"Damn right, you're sorry," River replied, shaking her head.
"Yo, get in the car," the stout man dressed in all black said, referring to River. "We takin' his shit."
"No, please ... take my money, but please, not my car. I just started making payments on it," he cried out.
"Fuck you!" the slimmer black male shouted, with his gun trained at Ronny's head. "You having a bad night, muthafucka!"
Suddenly, the larger man went up to Ronny and brutally began striking him in the head with the butt of his gun. He continued to hit his victim until his face was bloodred, and the man was nearly unconscious.
"That's enough!" River cried out as she looked on in shock.
"Let that be a lesson to him. He needs to stay his white ass where he came from. Ain't no need for this cracker to come around here and mess wit' our women."
Ronny lay unconscious, sprawled out on the ground, with his dick still exposed. River still had his pants in her hands.
"I think he's dead, Red," River said, panic showing on her face.
"Fuck that cracker! Get in the car, River," Red shouted.
River didn't hesitate on getting in the car with her accomplice. His partner jumped into Ronny's Benz and drove off behind Red and River.
"Why you do that, Red?" River shouted. "We had his money and keys already. You didn't have to beat him like that."
"Yeah, I did, cuz I bet you his white ass will never come around here again," he stated. "He touched you too. I hate it when men touch you, River."
"I'm not your property, Red, remember that," River stated angrily.
Red glanced at her, but didn't respond. He got jealous easily.
River sighed and sat back in her seat, gazing out the window as the car raced down Rockaway Boulevard toward Far Rockaway to a nearby chop shop to get money for the stolen Benz.
River had been scheming in the streets of southeast Queens with Big Red and Twinkie for a year now. She had known both men for a while. They met at the club, and she figured that they were career criminals, getting involved in anything from major drug sales to grand larceny.
Big Red approached her one day at a strip club on Jamaica Avenue. He watched her dance naked onstage for a moment, then wanted to talk to her after her set. He bought her a drink, flaunted a handful of money, and told River that he had a very lucrative proposition for her to get easy money. River was listening. When Red told her what he wanted her to do, she was very reluctant at first. But dancing was getting tiresome for her, and she wanted something new for herself. Thinking it over, and even knowing that becoming a pawn to entrap men for a stick-up crew would be consequently dangerous for her, she still accepted the job.
River did her first holdup in Brooklyn, helping Big Red and Twinkie stick up two drug-dealing brothers who were eagerly willing to take River back to their two-bedroom condo in Canarsie for a night of a lusty threesome.
River discreetly disclosed their information to Red, and an hour later, he had both brothers bound and gagged in their condo and robbed them of everything they had.
Two months later, River was becoming a pro at luring men to her without even saying one word to them. Instantly they came to her, willing to wine and dine her and take her away on vacations. Only later would they find out it was a dire mistake.
"Take me home!" River said, becoming more and more frustrated that Red had beaten that white boy in the alley so severely.
"Take me home, Red!" River sternly repeated herself.
"Yo, you still upset over that white boy?" Big Red asked, glancing at River. "It was a job."
"You didn't have to beat him like that. He had a family, Red."
"Oh, like you gave a fuck about his family when you was setting him up," Red countered.
"Take me home now or I'm out," she threatened.
"You can't be serious."
River kept quiet. Her look said it all to Red.
"You a piece of work, River ... fuckin' fo' real. Bitch suddenly wants to have a fuckin' conscience," Red cried out, making a sudden U-turn in the middle of the street.
River remained quiet until Big Red dropped her off at her place one block off Hillside Avenue.
"I'll talk to you later, Red," River said dryly as she jumped out of Red's car and walked to her front door. Red quickly drove off, followed by Twinkie in the stolen Benz.
River shared a basement apartment with a female roommate named Tah-Tah, who was a stripper at Day Dreamz, a Queens strip club on Hillside Avenue.
Tah-Tah was beautiful, but a gold-digging chickenhead who only cared about money and herself.
"You home early," Tah-Tah said, sitting on the couch and doing her own pedicure in her underwear.
"I thought you would be at the club already," River said, walking past her and not wanting to talk to her.
"Kay picking me up around one. You know a bitch can't miss a night tryin' to get my money," Tah-Tah said.
"Whateva!" River said, not being in the mood.
River went into her bedroom and closed the door behind her. She didn't know why she flipped out on Red. She didn't really care for the white boy he'd beaten, but she felt that this game they were playing was getting old for her and too risky. And it didn't help her mood that tonight she had her period. For her, it seemed like going from stripping to becoming a stickup kid, it was one endless hustle after another.
IT'S LIKE CANDY. Copyright © 2007 by Erick S. Gray. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
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